Astronomers find supernova explosion twice as bright as any in the universe

The supernova outshines any in the universe (PA)
The supernova outshines any in the universe (PA)

A gigantic explosion which tore apart an ancient star created a supernova which shines twice as brightly as any other in the universe, scientists say.

The star which sparked the gigantic blast is thought to have been up to 100 times bigger than our sun, the scientists believe.

The explosion energy released was 10 times that of a normal-sized supernova, and scientists believe that two stars may have merged just before the blast occurred.

Read more: Mysterious event set off 100,000 supernova explosions

Matt Nicholl, of the University of Birmingham asaid “We determined that in the final years before it exploded, the star shed a massive shell of gas as it violently pulsated.

“The collision of the explosion debris with this massive shell led to the incredible brightness of the supernova. It essentially added fuel to the fire.”

The supernova was first spotted in 2016 using data from the Panoramic Survey Telescopes and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS).

But a four-year follow-up study revealed the true scale of the explosion.

Read more: Supernova leftovers preserve messy blow-up that wrecked two stars

Supernovae occur when a star reaches the end of its life.

Dr Matt Nicholl, from the University of Birmingham, said: "We can measure supernovae using two scales - the total energy of the explosion and the amount of that energy that is emitted as observable light, or radiation.

"In a typical supernova, the radiation is less than one per cent of the total energy.

"But in SN2016aps, we found the radiation was five times the explosion energy of a normal-sized supernova. This is the most light we have ever seen emitted by a supernova."

Study author Dr Peter Blanchard, from Northwestern University, USA, said: "While many supernovae are discovered every night, most are in massive galaxies.

"This one immediately stood out for further observations because it seemed to be in the middle of nowhere.

"We weren't able to see the galaxy where this star was born until after the supernova light had faded."